Comments on Writer with Drinks
commentson 9 May 2004 : 16:18, stan hodgson sez:

Mr. Hall's recent posts on this site suggest a greater than normal divergence between lived experience and the blogged representation. Take graduate school, for instance. Here's what USC's website says
Application Deadline

The deadline for receipt of all application materials - USC Application for Graduate Admission, official transcripts, test scores and Cinema-Television supplemental materials is:

January 30, 2004 - for fall admission.

There is no spring admission for this program.
--end of pasted material--

It would have made no sense for Mr. Hall to be completing his application in April or May. What must have happened is that Mr. Hall applied by January 30, and then began posting on the graduate school topic at a much later date, most likely after he'd been admitted, but AS IF he were still contemplating applying. Certain decisions about the house were likely made and concluded far in advance of the posting, if it is indeed the case that he is moving and selling the house. The temporalities of school admission and house selling are not obscure, and many readers would be familiar with how these things work. . I wonder about the nature of this divergence, between the probably facts of the lived life, and the manner in which it presented online, and about the relative transparency of the on-line fiction, particularly on a site that depends, for much of its effect, on giving the perception of a wholly open life. Comments, please

commentson 9 May 2004 : 16:52, James sez:

That's interesting, Stan.

I've often wondered whether there was not a great deal of artifice in Justin's apparently casual and offhanded (and apparently uncensored) manner of describing his life.

I'll be curious to hear what Justin says in response to your queries. Maybe we will get a peek behind the curtain!

commentson 9 May 2004 : 18:13, Sebastian Hassinger sez:

Well, as one who has (briefly) met Mr. Hall in person, I can assure you that he is a state-of-the-art simulacra, and as such is it not possible that such lag has occurred between his "experience" and "blog" loops. Only the shoddy 1st and 2nd generation blogbots are susceptible to this obvious exposure of their artificial nature. Still, a good try, Stan - it's the vigilance of millions of users such as yourself that have brought the blogbot Mk.3 to such a high level of realism in the first place!

commentson 9 May 2004 : 19:08, C(h)ristine sez:

But -- Stan brings up some good points!

I've asked a few times already -- WHY Justin's working on an application in MAY for a program with an application deadline in JANUARY...and why move to L.A. in such a hurry?

I myself am heading to begin an MFA program this fall -- his schedule does seem out of sync.

Justin -- are you applying for the Fall 2005 program, or the Fall 2004 program?

I'm so confused!

commentson 9 May 2004 : 19:40, stan hodgson sez:

In my above comment, when I wrote "probably facts" I meant "probable facts." Excuse the typo. Two possibilites I've considered: Mr. Hall is making up quite a lot of what he writes here; or else he didn't want to post his graduate school decision-making process until after it was certain that he was admitted. The latter possibility seems, somehow, less likely, since his blog is often quite open about the main character's failings and mistakes. Why would he be embarrassed about a failure to be admitted to a fairly mediocre graduate degree program? In any case, I think we can conclude that this particular "on-line life" has more fictional elements than have hitheto been indicated. Disappointing, in an odd way.

commentson 9 May 2004 : 20:43, modesty verve sez:

stan, you neglected to consider the most likely possibility: that justin has been invited to participate in the program and that the application process is merely pro forma. btw, there's no such concept as a "probable fact."

sebastian, "simulacra" is a plural noun (like phenomena, criteria, media, data, etc.), and therefore requires the plural form of a verb. you probably mean "simulacrum."

making the world safe for clarity, one sentence at a time....

commentson 9 May 2004 : 21:56, stan hodgson sez:

Dear modesty,
This is a possibility I hadn't considered, and thank you for raising it. Extremely uncommon, in graduate programs, but not impossible. Confirmation, in this case, would be welcome. If this were how it happened, it would of course be very unusual for Hall not to have mentioned it.

Of course one can use the adjective "probable" (syn.: likely) to modify "facts." Facts that are awaiting expected confirmation could be felicitously described as probable facts. One would not normally use the word "concept" to reference that, but I got what you meant. Your correction of Sebastian is, of course, an important one.

commentson 9 May 2004 : 22:54, Sean sez:

I think if Justin was going to present a 'false' real life on his site, he'd pick soemthing more interesting to lie about than when his graduate school applications were due.

That said when I met him the other day, he mentioned he was unsure of what he was gonna do if he didn't get into USC, seems like an awful lot of work to keep up a charade on his website and in real life.

commentson 9 May 2004 : 23:21, C(h)ristine sez:

I don't think Justin's making this stuff up -- there are just a few missing facts (like my persistent question about why he's working on a grad school application in May...and why he's uprooting his life for an unknown factor)...

Justin -- I'm sorry if I'm objectifying you, or at the very least, "talking about you while you're in the room" (this is YOUR web-place). I know you as a person, but your webpage and your postings are so alive to me, that at times you are a character in a living breathing "reality" story.

Hope that makes sense. And of course, if my questions are dredging up things that are too private to share, you of course have every right to keep that information to yourself. I know I don't post everthing on my own blog!

commentson 10 May 2004 : 09:00, Witz sez:

Justin, clarify

commentson 10 May 2004 : 11:41, 666 RUDY sez:

Justin's friend MIMI ITO (FISCHER).

Her husband SCOTT FISCHER is the chair of the interactive media department at the USC film school.

Justin was invited to participate in the program.

This is uncommon as Stan says, but isn't "extremely uncommon." I was invited to grad school the same way, as were two of my friends. If you have a number of friends who are academics, and you are smart and enthusiastic, they will often try to recruit you into the academy, as the normal "apply and wait" students are usually stupid and apathetic. YMMV.

commentson 10 May 2004 : 12:13, Mike B. sez:

Maybe grad school applicants are stupid and apathetic at USC. Otherwise, I have noticed that they tend to be focused like a laser on their goals.

commentson 10 May 2004 : 18:07, modesty verve sez:

stan, it can't be extremely uncommon to be invited to enter a grad school program because i was offerred an unsolicited spot in two phd programs at two universities in two different disciplines, and i'm no hotshot by any means. likewise, my husband was asked to participate in a graduate research group at yet a third university, and although neither of us accepted any offer, it was made clear to us in each case that we'd already been "admitted."

however, more interesting than the details of justin's grad school paperwork is your declaration on the "relative transparency of [this] on-line fiction." so what's it to ya, bub?

a fact is information that's already been deemed true. therefore, because the probability of any fact being true is 100%, the concept of a "probable fact" is not only useless but semantically illogical.

commentson 10 May 2004 : 20:25, James sez:

All this talk about spots in graduate programs, being casually offered by friends and pals, paints a distressing picture of privilege breeding more privilege. Ugh.

I hope they weren't highly sought-after spots.

commentson 10 May 2004 : 20:37, stan hodgson sez:

OK- so I didn't know all there was to know about backdoor grad school admissions. So shoot me. Hall could have explained that.

But seriously, Modesty, be a little more modest, about your editorial strengths, and a little less strident with the red pen mentality. This is from the OED, under "probable."

   3. a. Having an appearance of truth; that may in view of present evidence be reasonably expected to happen, or to prove true; likely.
  1606 SHAKES. Ant. & Cl. V. ii. 356 Most probable That so she dyed. 1620 T. GRANGER Div. Logike 142 The birds neither sow, reape, &c. as you doe, Ergo tis lesse probable that they should be fed. 1651 HOBBES Leviath. II. xxv. 134 The necessary or probable consequences of the action. 1736 WELSTED Wks. (1787) 469 This were a probable opinion, though not warranted by holy writ. 1809 ROLAND Fencing 67 Is it probable that a man will thrust if he expects that he will be parried? 1814 D. STEWART Philos. Hum. Mind II. II. iv. §4. 240 In our anticipations of astronomical phenomena..philosophers are accustomed to speak of the event as only probable; although our confidence in its happening is not less complete, than if it rested on the basis of mathematical demonstration. 1879 THOMSON & TAIT Nat. Phil. I. I. §392 The Probable Error of an observation is a numerical quantity such that the error of the observation is as likely to exceed as to fall short of it in magnitude. 1891 E. PEACOCK N. Brendon II. 317 This was the more probable solution.

    b. with infinitive as complement: Likely to be or to do something. Obs.
  1653 GAUDEN Hierasp. 114 These rustick and rash under~takers..are only probable to shipwrack themselves. 1662 STILLINGFL. Orig. Sacr. III. iv. §10 None is conceived so probable to have first peopled Greece, as he whose name was preserved..with very little alteration. a1680 BUTLER Rem. (1759) I. 223 'Tis probable to be the truest test.

    c. Relating to or indicating probability.
  1736 BUTLER Anal. Introd. 1 Probable Evidence is essentially distinguished from demonstrative by this, that it admits of Degrees.

    d. Likely to be (something specified).
  1890 ‘R. BOLDREWOOD’ Col. Reformer (1891) 215 He essayed to make choice of a probable companion.

Also See
link text

for some good discussion of modifiers for "fact,'" including a cite of "probable fact" from Edward Gibbon, generally considered a fine English stylist.

I do wonder why you keep using "concept" in this way, if you're so concerned about semantic precision

commentson 10 May 2004 : 21:50, 666 RUDY sez:

James, I wouldn't worry too much about the graduate school old-boy network. Justin is going to film school to get an MFA in video game analysis. At USC he's paying in at LEAST 50K for this privilege. I doubt any working class latinos had their life dreams dashed when he pulled some strings to get in.

Speaking of working class latinos, I didn't worry too much about turning down the privilege of earning less money than I did in high school to enter into graduate school under the radar. And the indian american guy offering me the place totally understood when I turned him down. If you haven't been on campus in a while, you may have not realized that probably 60% of graduate students are non-white (or white, but jewish) people from relatively middle class backgrounds. Privilege is uncle Jeb giving Bubba a $20M per year job managing one of his oil fields, not Samir giving Rudy a spot in the biostatistics PhD program. But again, YMMV.

Also STAN, quoting the dictionary is one of the lamest argument techniques on earth, even if modesty is being a pedant in the most incorrect of manner.

commentson 10 May 2004 : 22:22, jill bean sez:

I still think there's a discrepancy between what Sean says, above, and what the other people said about Justin getting admitted through the back door. And I also wonder why 666rudy thinks Stan was out of line quoting the dictionary, when modesto was going on and on about that one word, and Stan was right the whole time.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 02:15, Mark sez:

I got onto my grad program by turning up at enrolment. I didn’t even apply. They didn’t notice for six months and then just kind of accepted it. Like they care so long as they get their money.

OK so I am also a member of staff at the institution but not in that school and the people who enrolled me didn’t know.

We have a saying round here...

"trespassers will be enrolled.”

commentson 11 May 2004 : 08:25, Mike B. sez:

I know this is silly, but if you happened to read my last comment, (above) you might have found it offensive if you are currently attending or are planning to attend USC. The comment was poorly written and I didn't mean any offense by it at all. I should have proof read it before posting. Sorry.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 15:08, Don Park sez:

I, for one, don't care. A good yarn is a good yarn regardless of the ratio of truth.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 17:29, Steve sez:

This thread is hilarious. And where is Justin??

commentson 11 May 2004 : 19:35, Mr. Right (I killed Mr. Correct, that f*cker) sez:

Divergence. Silly word. You could've used "difference" or "contrast" but as long as you prove good at vocabulary you're not barren inside. Right, Stan? Right?


Justin, you always have a place to stay in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, baby. Just beep me with 565 and I know its a Hall booty call.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 20:01, stan hodgson sez:

Divergence isn't so bad a word, nor is it all that pretentious. But I want to respond to a few of the earlier posts: I don’t believe a word of all this truth/fiction who cares stuff. It might seem all hip and pomo to everybody with a foggy memory of the Lyotard and the dumbed-down Derrida they studied in college, and yes it allows for these tired cyberpunk riffs about simulacra and all that. But hardly anybody who reads blogs reads them for experimental narrative or envelope-pushing reality bending. People read them for lots of reasons—boredom, laziness, information-gathering, trend-spotting, getting off. But mostly it boils down to voyeurism—blogs are portals into the minutiae of daily lives other than our own. We read them the way we read letters we find on the street, or listen in on conversations on the bus. Mostly, like most lives, they’re amazingly banal, like the girls with the Ivy League educations and the high tech jobs who go on and on about living for the moment, or how sore their joints are, or their ttravel plans, or surfing, or who blast out one idiotic homily after another about all “the creatives”they’re so happy to be around all the time, or who end their posts with pumped-up puerility like “god, it’s great to be alive.” That’s part of the attraction of blogs, though: the banality of the real. They're an escape from what isn’t so banal, which is the destruction of hope and social life that our political/economic system is perpetrating every day. These are pretty shitty times, as I think almost anybody would admit. Then there’s Justin Hall, the not-so-banal. Obviously, a lot of Justin’s readers are living vicariously through him: he’s the guy that surfs the next wave out: groping in the dark, learning his equipment, checking out the Middle East or South Korea, and we groove, through him, on life’s rich pageant of possibility. But these readers want the real thing: if they wanted a fantasy life to identify with, they could stick to Tin Tin, William Gibson, or whatever. The truth matters in this medium, so let's everybody admit it.

So maybe the grad-school thing wasn’t a ruse. As I wrote, I really didn’t know about backdoor stuff like that. But all this pseudo-post-structuralism is pretty hard to take too.

I am glad that Modesty Verve seemed to concede defeat in our discussion of my phrase “probable facts.” Now that’s something real.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 13:51, Baby Ruth sez:


What’s the difference between fantasy and reality? We figure experience through imaginative acts.

What does it matter if there is no “real” Justin Hall? I’ve met him, so I know he’s an “embodied” individual. But the lived experience that he creates in the Links is a fantasy whether it’s really happened or not. The thrill of his story is that it plays out in disembodied vectors, detached from the “real thing” – after all, there is no “real thing.”

How do I know you’re really Stan? Proof is a myth.

How do I know you’re not Justin exposing himself as a simulacrum?

Now, we have a mystery. I like the genre. Why did Justin Hall conceal his hypothetical invitation to grad school? Why suppress the means/the workings of the process when he so obligingly posted the contents of his applications? A simultaneous suppression/exposure of details. Paradoxical. I like it.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 14:35, stan hodgson sez:

I know a little about fantasy and figuration and all that, but this is the sort of thing I meant when I referred to the hip pomo take on things. I do not think the web log genre functions in this way for the majority of readers. I think that when Hall writes about his adventures, the GREAT majority of readers care that he actually did this stuff, that he is being intimate with them. There are generic conventions, and he bent them. Not a crime, but still...

Sorry my last post got mangled with those weird characters, where quotes and apostrophes were intended. I have to go back to my job now so it is a probable fact that this will turn out to have been my last post here. It would be good if Justin Hall clarified things.

Bye bye everybody,

commentson 12 May 2004 : 15:48, Baby Ruth sez:

Bye, Stan.

The hip pomo take nonetheless describes aspects of our historical moment. The web log genre, as you conceive of it, creates a fiction of its own – in which readers manufacture an imagined intimacy with the character at play in the Links. I don’t mean imaginary…just imagined….to feel it you have to conjure it.

If the genre relies on 1) forming intimacy with the Hall web-ego and 2) tracing that online persona back to some verifiable, living-and-breathing source, we can read those assumptions as conventions, as you so rightly put it.

But conventions are inherently unstable. At this point, there’s no way the Links could retain fidelity to their original source (10 years of living is a lotta living, and all the pieces of our lives warp/shift/transform over time).

Still, thanks for holding the line on authenticity. I will admit that its existence, if not a probable fact, is possible.

February 2005 - comments are closed on Thanks.